Englishmen, says a French traveler, M. Jean Bailhache, are mad because, among other reasons, they are so devoted to sports. He has written a paperback called
. "Sport?" inquires M. Bailhache with a raised psychological eyebrow. "An excellent outlet for aggressive instincts" is his immediate answer to himself. M. Bailhache finds that in England, "Sport is not looked up to as a means of aesthetic improvement, or as a hymn to the beauty of form and movement, but as a school for team spirit and fair play." Sport "has a cathartic or purgative function, whether as a spectacle and an outlet for John Citizen's aggressive instincts or as heroic reading-matter churned out by the popular press for people who like weaving fantasy-lives for themselves as giants of sport, in their armchairs at home."
The Daily Sketch comments on all this: "Even if M. Bailhache felt compelled, on such flimsy understanding, to write a guide book to Britain, you would have expected him to avoid stirring up our aggressive instincts, for fear some irate Briton might up and punch him on the nose. But he knows he is safe. At worst the British will just laugh at him."
THE ANNUAL PUZZLE
Baseball's exhibition season is ending and there are the usual arguments over the significance of the so-called Grapefruit League standings. The fan whose team is doing badly during the exhibition season generally shucks the whole thing off, but the fan whose team is doing well puts quite a bit of faith in the exhibition standings.
A look at the records since 1953 shows that only one American League team, the 1956 Yankees, ever won both the spring title and a league championship in the same year. No National League team has ever managed to win both. Three teams, the 1953 and 1955 Pirates and the 1955 Senators, were first in spring and last in the fall. Against that, consider last season's record: 12 of the 16 major league teams finished in virtually the same position during the regular season as they had in the spring. The major exceptions were the Red Sox, who were second in spring, seventh in the fall, and the Yankees, who were eighth when it didn't count and first when it did.
? Los Angeles won't get a National Hockey League franchise until San Francisco builds an ice arena, thus making the West Coast trip a profitable, two-city jaunt for the NHL.
? Charley Eckman, the cigar-puffing funnyman who once officiated, and then coached, in the National Basketball Association, will be rehired by the league as a referee.
?The West Coast may soon lure the U.S. tennis championships away from Forest Hills; Los Angeles is building a 9,000-seat tennis stadium in Griffith Park.